February has been a fantastic month for us, we won Colchester & North Essex CAMRA Pub of the Year, then we got shortlisted for the Smartest Pub Competition! Firstly I must extend a huge thank you to our extremely intelligent customers. Without their efforts answering the Pilsner Urquell Czech Challenge Mensa questions I wouldn’t be writing this blog. Secondly there were several people instrumental in helping me put the business plan together, another huge thank you goes to Harriet our fantastic Pilsner Representative, Sarah my long suffering girlfriend & my business partners Mum & Dad.
It all started in 1842 when Josef Groll unveiled the first clear golden lager at the market in a town called Pilsen in then Czechoslovakia. Since then the Czech beer Pilsner Urquell (Pilsner from the Original Source) has been continuously brewed to exceptionally high standards. Many around the world have tried to copy it and the quality of many of those has often been compromised in return for increased production speed or financial savings. Pilsner Urquell is still brewed to the same method with the same malt, saaz hops, water and yeast as it was then and despite taking advantage of technological advancement in brewing machinery it is also still ‘parallel brewed’ using the old methods to make sure that the beer remains the same as the Original.
As a reward for proving The Thatchers Arms is in the top 10 smartest pubs in Britain I was lucky enough to visit the Czech Republic and the brewery in Pilsen on behalf of the staff and customers in order to pitch a business plan to improve the pub. From the Pilsner Urquell Leather Hand Luggage that arrived with my travel documents to breakfast at Gordon Ramsey’s Plane Food at Heathrow T5 and on to the Brewery and to Prague, the hospitality myself and the other finalists received matched Pilsner’s brewing ethos to a T. Uncompromised Quality.
We all presented our business plans to the judges (Caroline, Brendan and Laura) at the brewery, thankfully mine was before the tour, but we weren’t to find out the results until dinner that evening. The Pilsner Urquell team and especially our tour guide Eva treated us like kings with our first Pilsner Urquell when we got on the bus at the airport at 10am, and our last drink in Prague s best cocktail Bar La Bodeguita del Medio at midnight. With gift vouchers to spend in the brewery shop, stunning food for lunch at the Brewery and dinner at Hergetova Cilhena in Prague we truly were spoilt rotten.
The brewery tour in Pilsen was amazing and a must see if you are ever in the Czech Republic. We were lucky enough to taste the pure, unfiltered, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell straight from the Oak Casks in the 9km of 170 year old tunnels under the brewery. It was a hazy honey colour with a gentle natural carbonation and a fuller, hoppier flavour than the filtered, lightly pasteurised version we serve at the pub. It went down so well I managed 3 glasses in our short time underground!
Incase you didn’t already know we won! So what are we going to do with the £10,000 prize to reward you for your help and intelligence?
‘Pilsner Presents…’ Mount Bures’ very own Pop Up Cinema, Theatre and Arts venue. When we are up and running we will run a weekly Film Club showing pre DVD release films on our brand new digital projector in conjunction with our brand new BOSE Pro Sound System. But this won’t be your average cinema experience. We’ve brought the uncompromised ethos back from the Czech Republic and will have cabaret theatre style seating with tables for a more sociable and comfortable show. You can order food or drinks to be delivered to your table at the start of the film or the interval, we’ll have a Pilsner Urquell bar in the auditorium so you don’t need to miss a thing if you’d like another beer, our menu will be carefully selected to pair with Pilsner Urquell and to be quiet to eat. No crunching pop corn or rustling packets to disturb your experience. We will also host our Quiz nights, Open Mic Nights, Live music and Theatrical productions in the Pilsner Presents Theatre with the Pilsner Urquell ethos.
I am so pleased that we will soon be able to share our gift from Pilsen with all of you and whilst I can’t quite put into words how special myself and the other finalists were made to feel on our visit, I hope you experience that same feeling when you come to one of our ‘Pilsner Presents…’ events.
Watch this space for details of our first film, our first theatre Production ‘Beer Street‘ early summer and fingers crossed for a barrel of unfiltered Pilsner Urquell for our official launch party (25th June TBC).
For a different viewpoint on our trip & the competition, have a read of the blog from Caroline Nodder, The Publican Editor & Independant Judge for Pilsner Urquell.